Putting the “fun” back in funeral.

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Gothic princess hanging out in a cemetery. The things I do for journalism!

In the spirit of Halloween, I thought it would be nice to go to a funeral. Not just any funeral, mind you, but a fake funeral. Luckily, I found one! The Merchant’s House Museum in NoHo offers a funeral recreation entitled, “From Parlor to Grave”, in which people can participate in a 19th century-style funeral and receive a tour of the neighboring Marble Cemetery. 50% morbid, 50% informative, 100% fun!

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People act as pallbearers and lug an empty casket from East 4th & Lafayette to 2nd & 2nd. One pallbearer, in particular, seemed to find humor in the situation. Death is not funny. Not even fake death.

“This is my second fake funeral in two weeks!,” a creepy older woman said to me as we walked from the museum to the burial. Thanks in part to fake funeral enthusiasts, the Merchant’s House Museum has found great success in embracing its dark side. Opening in 1936, the museum has preserved a typical 19th century merchant family’s home complete with the original furnishings and family’s personal possessions. It offers a glimpse into the domestic  life of a family living in New York City during the advent of the Civil War.

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Mourning the death of Seabury Tredwell, an original resident of the Merchant's House in the 1800's. He's been dead for a long time.

When the museum originally purchased the home, they had heard whispers of people experiencing  ghost sightings and other supernatural phenomena inside the home. “For years, we ignored our “spirited” reputation, and refused to answer questions about the ghost stories associated with the House.”, Eva Ulz,  the museum’s Education & Communications manager, said via e-mail. ” We finally realized that the ghosts could be an asset…these stories are part of the Museum’s history, and deserving of thorough investigation as well as accurate documentation. ”  The museum has been visited by several different teams of ghost hunters — including a few that were televised. In the past couple years, the Museum has also worked directly with a team of paranormal investigators who specialize in conducting scientific investigations at historic sites.  The New York Times has called it, “Manhattan’s most haunted house.”

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Fake funeral fun.

Ghosts, death and mourning seem to have breathed new life into the museum. The funeral I attended was sold-out and attracted a diverse array of people. “I came to this because I just really like to hang out in graveyards.”, Alyssa, a Brooklyn artist, said. “I just came from a graveyard upstate. They’re great.” The cheese, apparently, does not stand alone.

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